Priyanka Charak | Posted on July 17, 2023August 2, 2023 | 2 min Read Role of Continuous Monitoring in DevOps Pipeline INTRODUCTION Technology is constantly evolving, and to beat the competition, the teams must push the software updates to the production environment as quickly as possible. To get a faster response to such changing customer needs, organizations switch to DevOps. It becomes critical to monitor each phase of the DevOps pipeline; to identify any compliance or security issues that might hinder the production of quality output. Continuous Monitoring in DevOps takes the responsibility of watching over all the stages in the pipeline and constantly monitoring any unforeseen threats. WHAT IS CONTINUOUS MONITORING IN DEVOPS? It is an automated process that helps DevOps teams in the early detection of compliance issues that occur at different stages of the DevOps process. As the number of applications deployed on the cloud grows, the IT Security team must adopt various Security Software solutions to mitigate the security threats while maintaining privacy and security. Continuous Monitoring in DevOps is also called Continuous Control Monitoring(CCM). It is not restricted to just DevOps but also covers any area that requires attention. It provides necessary data sufficient to make decisions by enabling easy tracking and rapid error detection. It provides feedback on things going wrong, allowing teams to analyze and take timely actions to rectify problematic areas. It is easily achievable using good Continuous Monitoring tools that are flexible across different environments, whether on-premise, in the cloud or across containerized ecosystems, to watch over every system all the time. GOALS OF CONTINUOUS MONITORING IN DEVOPS At the time of production release of the software product, Continuous Monitoring notifies the Quality analysts about any concerns arising in the production environment. Continuous Monitoring in DevOps helps organizations track the operational performance of the app. It supports monitoring the user’s behavior at the time of new application updates. It helps teams understand the impact of the recent updates, real-time data on the user interactions, and the overall user experience. This data is helpful in the root-cause analysis of the situation and the fitness of the IT infrastructure, offsite networks, and deployed software. TYPES OF CONTINUOUS MONITORING IN DEVOPS a. Infrastructure Monitoring: Under this, the IT Infrastructure of the organization responsible for delivering the end product, is monitored using DevOps Monitoring tools. This infrastructure includes the software, hardware, servers, data centers, networks, etc. It gathers data from different IT Systems and analyses that data so that the decisions to improve the product or service are made easy. b. Application Monitoring: This type helps in monitoring the performance of the released application. It measures uptime, time taken in completing a transaction, system responses, API responses, servers, and UI sides of the system. c. Network Monitoring: Network monitoring aims to detect and mitigate all network related issues and notify the respective team to prevent crashes. It provides the status on firewalls, routers, switches, virtual machines, etc., and their functioning. Download a Sample DevOps Template and Architecture diagram for a deeper understanding Download DevOps Template and Architecture Diagram ADVANTAGES OF CONTINUOUS MONITORING IN DEVOPS IT organizations that have adopted Continuous Monitoring are a step ahead of their competitors that still run batch analysis on their data. Continuous monitoring helps in gaining critical information about the IT infrastructure, applications, and networks. It enables keeping an eye on the crucial data of the organization, real-time. Let’s have a look at its benefits: A. Network Transparency: Continuous Monitoring in DevOps provides complete transparency regarding the status of the technical set-up. It figures out the system, collects and analyzes that crucial data automatically, and ensures important trends/events are not missed due to any unclear signs of the system. B. Rapid Incident Response: Continuous Monitoring reduces the gaps between detecting the issue and reporting to the response team. Enabling timely response to such challenges mitigates the risks of operational issues and security threats. Consistent system monitoring enables an alert mechanism and real-time security monitoring to minimize or avoid damage, causing application performance issues. C. Reduction in System Downtime: Keeping the system operational and its performance glitch-free is the main aim of Continuous Monitoring. It is achievable by acting immediately on the app performance issues before they cause system downtime and service outages impacting the end-user . D. Business Performance Catalyst: With all the benefits that CCM carries, continuous monitoring reduces the burden of dealing with app issues that affect the customer experience, protects the business against suffering losses because of these conditions, and maintains business credibility. Continuous Monitoring tools provide critical user and system data to the QA, development, sales, marketing, and customer service team to make business decisions. MANAGING RISKS WITH CONTINUOUS MONITORING Risk Management is backed by a strong continuous monitoring tool for the DevOps mechanism. DevOps teams should select tools only after a thorough evaluation of compliance systems, after making a robust risk management plan. The plans can differ depending on the kind of organization, e.g., small or large organizations, government or private firms, etc. To understand how to mitigate risks at deeper levels, the organization needs to ask a few questions like: What is the limit of damage the organization can resist and recover from? What factors should you consider while calculating risks? Can every factor mentioned in the above scenario be assigned value denoting high-value risk? At what level should data produced by the organization be kept confidential? How are data security breaches, hardware, and software failures going to impact the organization internally and externally? BEST PRACTICES FOR CONTINUOUS MONITORING IN DEVOPS Organizations have to decide what aspects they need to monitor based on their IT ecosystem. Some key areas to track are user behavior, server health, app performance, development targets, and system strengths and weaknesses, etc. A. Infrastructure tools must monitor server and database health, storage, response time, security, user permissions, networks, performance trends, etc. B. Network tools must monitor Network Lags, server bandwidth, network packet transfers, Multi-port metrics, etc. C. Application tools must monitor user response time, user interactions, page loading speed, third-party application speed, browser speed, SLA Status, etc. IMPLEMENTATION OF CONTINUOUS MONITORING IN DEVOPS Robust and Versatile solutions enable technology teams to monitor the system anomalies and provide metrics to take corrective actions. Organizations can follow the basic steps mentioned below to implement CCM: A. Define the Scope of applying CCM: An organization should determine which systems have to be continuously monitored and covered under the range of the IT Management team. B. Risk Analysis: Organizations should understand the importance of risk management. Its role is to identify areas that are highly vulnerable to risks. Assets on High-risk need more security controls, and so on. C. Choosing Security Control System: Risk Analysis in the second step will provide the DevOps team enough information to decide which areas need more attention. The IT teams can then implement Security Controls like passwords, firewalls, antivirus, encryption, etc. to protect the system. D. Configure Monitoring Tool: As the organizations start configuring the Continuous Monitoring tools, the monitoring tools start capturing the critical security control data. CCM tools capture log files from the deployed application. These log files capture information regarding all activities and interactions happening within the application, like security threats and other operational metrics. E. Data Assessment: Ultimately, it is the data that is analyzed to form meaningful insights. Once data is captured from different tools, it is used to decipher all the security and operational issues that require a resolution. Today, merely generating minimalistic reports does not help. Many organizations analyze enormous amounts of data with Big Data Analysis and Artificial intelligence to generate descriptive reports, trends, and patterns that indicate any abnormalities in the system. ROLE OF TESTING IN CONTINUOUS MONITORING IN DEVOPS By now, we understand that continuous monitoring is resource-intensive. It helps testers gain a deep understanding of errors which consequently helps quality analysts in their testing efforts. To manage Continuous Control Systems well, the organizations must release thoroughly tested software-product i.e., in the real environment. If the Software is tested using Emulators and Simulators, the test results will not be accurate. Hence, they need to be tested in the real environment to get valid results both in manual and automated testing. Continuous Monitoring Tools: Here’s a deep dive into some of the most commonly used tools for Continuous Monitoring in DevOps: Sensu: Sensu is an open-source tool designed for multi-cloud monitoring at scale. It allows developers to monitor servers, services, application health, and business KPIs. It can also collect and analyze custom metrics and provides insight into the underlying systems. What sets Sensu apart is its enterprise version that includes features like multi-tenancy, LDAP authentication, and priority support. Prometheus: Prometheus is an open-source monitoring system and time series database. It features a multi-dimensional data model with time series data identified by metric name and key/value pairs. Prometheus’s query language allows for aggregation of data, generating alerts, and more. It is particularly well-suited for monitoring containerized environments and is the default monitoring system for Kubernetes. New Relic: New Relic is an observability platform that helps engineers instrument, analyze, troubleshoot, and optimize their entire software stack all in one place. This SaaS-based tool provides real-time insights into the performance of your web applications and infrastructure. What sets New Relic apart is its AI-powered analytics and full-stack visibility which allows for detailed performance optimization. Datadog: Datadog is a monitoring service for cloud-scale applications, providing monitoring of servers, databases, tools, services, apps, all through a SaaS-based data analytics platform. It can ingest massive amounts of data from different systems and provide real-time actionable insights. It offers seamless integration with popular DevOps tools like Docker and Slack, which makes it easy to use. Splunk: Splunk is a tool to make machine data accessible and usable. It captures, indexes, and correlates real-time data in a searchable repository, and generates graphs, reports, alerts, dashboards, and visualizations. Splunk is well-regarded for its log management capabilities and robust analytics features. ELK Stack: ELK Stack is an acronym for a combination of three open-source projects: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. Elasticsearch is a search and analytics engine, Logstash is a server-side data processing pipeline that ingests data from multiple sources, and Kibana lets users visualize data with charts and graphs. ELK Stack is most commonly used for log analysis in IT environments. Nagios: Nagios is an open-source computer-software application that monitors systems, networks, and infrastructure. It offers monitoring and alerting services for servers, switches, applications, and services. It alerts users when things go wrong and alerts them a second time when the problem has been resolved. Nagios is praised for its robust monitoring capabilities and large library of plugins. PagerDuty: PagerDuty is an incident management platform that provides reliable incident notifications via email, push, SMS, and phone, as well as automatic escalations, on-call scheduling, and other functionality to help teams detect and fix infrastructure problems quickly. It is particularly valuable for its on-call management capabilities and easy integrations. Each of these tools has its strengths and is suited to different environments and needs. The choice of tool would depend on factors like the existing tech stack, the nature of applications, the scale of operations, and specific monitoring needs. By understanding these tools, teams can make an informed decision about which one is the best fit for their DevOps pipeline. Conclusion: With the changing environment, identifying the issues early certainly helps stay a step ahead by solving the problem before it becomes critical. It enables organizations to monitor application performance, infrastructure and network on an immediate basis. It constantly keeps an eye on how the users behave while interacting with any new feature of the application. It also provides information to the organizations to understand how capable their IT set-up is to handle such issues. A right Continuous monitoring tools like Sensu, PagerDuty, Slack, Ansible, Chef, Puppet, etc help ease continuous monitoring by sharing insights on the performance, productivity of the application and notifying early signs of errors. Continuous Monitoring in DevOps works right from the beginning to end of the SDLC, and even after the deployment. Automating database performance monitoring is a top priority to implementing DevOps successfully.